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Public Lecture by Professor Elisabetta Cherchi

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The advent of new technologies, ranging from the seemingly ‘simple’ smartphone to electric and autonomous vehicles (AVs) and connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs), as well as smart cities and the Internet of Things, is transforming beyond recognition the way we interact with each other and with the surrounding environment and the way we move. In this complex system, understanding, modelling and forecasting travel demand represents one of the key research challenges of our time. In particular, the large-scale deployment of AVs and CAVs poses a critical question related to whether, how fast and under which conditions, consumers will embrace this novel technology. Studies on large-scale implementation of AVs often rely on simple assumptions about the future demand, complicating any attempts to plan the future of our transport systems. 

This presentation will discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with forecasting AV demand. It will focus on two key aspects: i) the problem of dynamically simulating the adoption and diffusion of AVs, which, as in most of the transport innovations, involves instrumental, economic, psychological and social dimensions; and ii) the problem of measuring and estimating individual preferences for AVs. It will examine the limitations of the current methods and the potential of emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), to gauge users’ preferences. Furthermore, it will discuss the extent to which knowledge, information, and experience with new technologies and in particular AV affects the estimated willingness to pay.

Elisabetta Cherchi is Professor at the School of Engineering, Future Mobility Group, Newcastle University and Adjunct Professor, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, China. Her research interest is in data collection, demand modelling, benefit evaluation, behavioural background of how individuals make decisions, especially for sustainable transport modes and transport innovations.

Professor Cherchi is a UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

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